Monday, May 16, 2005

A nation of philosophers…

Iranians still study philosophy and go to lectures. I joined them to hear some philosophers lecture at the gorgeous Philosopher's Institute in downtown Tehran. On the way, my taxi driver asked me: "Are Iranian drivers good or bad?" (This is the most common question structure: Is America good or is Iran good? Do you like your father better or your mother better? Is Iranian food good or is American food good?)

"If they were good, there would not be so many accidents in Iran, would there?"

"We drive badly because of the mullahs."

"So, the mullahs are responsible for your driving?"

"Yes. Get rid of them, and we will be better drivers."

"Do you really think so?"

"Why not? We Iranians are without law. That's because of the mullahs."

Was my driver a philosopher of an idiot?

One of the philosophers speaking tried to engage the Iranians in a discussion of the ways in which Iranian philosophy could be used in the West. Unfortunately, there were too many academics in the room so instead of engaging in discussion, they spent time showing off their knowledge and making points of their own. Get a few drinks in them, though, and I bet you can have some interesting chats…


Stan Horowitz said...

How can you say that Bush's election is like choosing the president in Iran? Clearly the answer to the driver's question is that Americans don't hate Bush. Some do, and they are prominent in the media, but more don't.

ET said...

Bush approval ratings

People who know people who like Bush think everyone likes him (and that the media dislikes him) and people who know people who dislike Bush think everyone dislikes him (and that the media likes him).

Anonymous said...

Good job for the new looks and comment section, te.

The fact is that barely half (voters for Bush) of barely half of the US eligible voters (US voter turnout) cared enough to directly elect George Bush. That is slightly higher than a quarter of them.

I think Iran's new president will do better than that.


ET said...

If the Iranian presidential election has a 48% turnout of eligible voters, that means that only those forced to vote are voting. 48% would be a low turnout in the US. In Iran 48% would be closer to 15% voter turnout. I'm being generous.